Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Workers safety at major productions questioned

Development in Botswana is often overlooked by the contractors.

A case in point is the working environment at the Morupule power plant in Palapye, where a worker’s life was recently lost.

The power plant is expected to provide electricity for the country by the end of 2012; it has raked 2 million hours of manpower thus far.

Last week, a 25-year-old Chinese worker fell to his death from a tower at the plant when his safety belt wasn’t properly buckled.

However, Glen Black, project manager at the site, said that they had been operating for almost two years without serious injuries.

The working conditions at the ongoing Lotsane Dam construction project are also a cause for concern in terms of the safety of the workers.

Currently there are facing problems with the number of safety belts and working shoes available to the workers.

They have had one fatality on the project since inception in 2009.The dam is 64.5 percent complete and is expected to be complete by October 2011.

The project will supply water to 22 villages in the Tswapong district and install 5 additional elevated tanks for village water supply.

“We are trying hard to improve safety every day, the fatality that we have experienced on the project has alerted us that we need to improve our safety procedures,” said Roman Wojtasik, a senior Resident Engineer. The Lotsane Dam project has also been involved in conflicts between leaders and their workers.

Wojtasik also revealed said that there had been a few misunderstandings on the ground between foremen and workers because of the language barriers. He said that even though they have translators, they are mostly in the offices attending meetings and could not therefore be on the field to prevent such situations. Unlike Dikgatlhong, Lotsane hasn’t experienced any disputes or mass resignations.

Sinohydro is the contractor for both the Lotsane Dam and the Dikgatlhong dams. During a recent media tour of the latter, it was revealed that most workers on site do not have safety belts and they wear their own shoes because the company keeps running out of stock with each new batch of workers.

They have had minor injuries where some workers have lost their fingers amongst other things.
The two fatalities that occurred at the site were of civilians who had been hit by company cars on the gravel road constructed by the contractor.

“Protective equipment has not been the best this side, but we keep on pestering the contractor to improve the situation,” said Boikanyo Mpho, chief engineer at Dikgatlhong Dam. “Every worker must have a proper safety aid.”

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